Update: Six weeks into the 2017 Oregon Legislative session

March 22, 2017

By Rhett Lawrence, Conservation Director

As predicted in last month’s legislative preview, it’s been a challenging session in the 2017 Oregon Legislature. After several sessions with some real environmental accomplishments (but also partisan divisiveness), we knew we would have a hard slog in making much progress in 2017. So things have gone pretty much as expected so far, and here are some updates on a few of the issues we’re working on.

For the past several sessions, we have been a part of a coalition working to try to put a price on carbon in Oregon. We have gone through various iterations of “cap and trade” and “cap and delegate” bills and have had some good hearings and debates in the legislature. This year the Oregon Chapter’s top legislative priority has been to pass a “Clean Energy Jobs bill.” Right now, the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee and the House Energy and Environment Committee are jointly looking at what might be the best solution for Oregon to create clean energy jobs and hold polluters accountable. The primary contenders so far are Senate Bill 557 and Senate Bill 748, and the committees are holding weekly workgroup meetings to investigate the policies reflected in those bills. You can help move them forward by contacting your legislator and tell them it’s time to act on greenhouse gas emissions in Oregon.

Another climate policy we’ve been spending some time on is an idea called the “Climate Test.” In essence, it is a scaled-down version of a State Environmental Policy Act that would apply to fossil fuel infrastructure projects in Oregon. Like the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), it would require cross-agency communications to consider the impacts of proposed fossil fuel infrastructure projects. Such proposed projects would also be subject to an environmental impact statement (EIS) with full lifecycle accounting of the project’s greenhouse gas emissions, coupled with an economic analysis that will show whether a project is viable in a world where climate goals are met. We have bills in both chambers – House Bill 3343 and Senate Bill 1007 – and we hope to be having a hearing on them in early April.

Our other top priority, along with the Clean Energy Jobs bill, will be to pass legislation that can help to solve the ongoing conundrum with the Elliott State Forest. As many of you know, the Elliott has been the subject of much debate recently, as the State Land Board tries to dispose of it in order to satisfy its obligations to the Common School Fund. Senate Bill 847 – a Trust Lands Transfer bill similar to what we worked on in the 2015 session – could be a part of that solution. That bill had its first hearing on March 20 and we are hopeful that it will move forward.

We are also working on a package of bills to address the critical issue of oil trains in our state. House Bill 2131 will help to improve safety and cleanup standards for the trains that are coming through Oregon. House Bill 3344 will make it more difficult to site oil train terminals here. Both bills had their initial public hearings in mid-March and we are awaiting further action on them soon.

A bill to limit the impacts of suction dredge mining on our state’s waters is making progress in the legislature. Senate Bill 3 is moving through the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee now and we are confident that it will have real benefits to salmon habitat in Oregon.

Another bill of interest is House Bill 2711, which would impose a 10-year moratorium on oil and gas fracking in Oregon. There is currently no fracking happening in Oregon and we’d like to keep it that way, so we’re pushing to move that bill forward in the House Energy and Environment committee.

Finally, on proactive legislation, we are supporting Senate Bill 1008, which will create more stringent standards for diesel emissions in Oregon. The bill had a public hearing in early March and we are monitoring its progress closely. In addition to getting dirty diesel out of our air, it will also pave the way for Oregon to receive $68 million in Volkswagen settlement money to fund clean air work in our state.

One bright note from the session is that we have had to play less defense and fight off fewer bad bills than we often have to do. There have been attempts to roll back public lands protections and to take aim at wolves and cougars. But for the most part, the same dynamic that is keeping some “controversial” bills that we like from getting much traction is also keeping the bad bills at bay!

So, as expected, the 2017 session has had both hazards and opportunities, and we’re trying to make the best of the latter while avoiding the former to the extent we can. As always, our success depends largely on you, so keep calling, writing, and e-mailing your legislators and making a difference for Oregon!


Working to Make Oregon’s Clean Energy Power Grid a Reality

March 21, 2017

Portland General Electric wants to build new fracked gas power plwind-and-solar_largeants which will lock us into decades of climate wrecking fossil fuel pollution.

PGE’s own analysis shows that our future energy needs can be reliably and affordably met with clean renewable energy which will create hundreds of new green energy jobs for our region.

There are 2 ways you can help us to create a landslide of comments to the Oregon Public Utility Commission

Download a comment card toolkit and gather comment cards from your neighbors and friends.

and

Send an email to your circle of contacts inviting them to use the Sierra Club’s website to submit an email comment.

Thanks for all you do.

Contact Gregory Monahan at gregory.monahan@oregon.sierraclub.org if you need any help or have any questions


Update on the Campaign to Block the Proposed Kalama Methanol Refinery

March 21, 2017

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Cowlitz County has approved a permit for the world’s largest gas-to-methanol refinery in Kalama, WA on the Columbia River, thirty-seven miles from Portland. The Department of Ecology has an opportunity to overturn this permit, and stop the project. A Chinese government corporation, Northwest Innovation Works LLC, plans to exploit inexpensive fracked gas and water prices to make methanol for plastic production.

If built, this project would increase fracked gas use by 30% in WA State, entail building new gas pipelines emit over a million tons of new climate pollution per year, drain five million gallons of water per day from the Columbia and Kalama River aquifers, store 72 million gallons of flammable, toxic methanol on soil with moderate to high risk of liquefying in an earthquake.

Please sign this petitionasking the Department of Ecology to do the right thing!

Want to find out more and get involved? Come to this informational forum!

Event Name: Explained: Climate Impacts From the Worlds’ Largest Methanol Refinery

Event Description: A presentation by Sightline Institute’s Tarika Powell on climate, fracking, and the world’s largest natural gas-to-methanol refinery proposed in the nearby town of Kalama, Washington. Click here for event agenda. More details about the event are available here.

When: Tuesday, April 18, 2017 7:00-8:30 pm

Where: Central Lutheran Church sanctuary 1820 NE 21st Ave, Portland, OR 97212

On April 29th, we will hold a People’s Climate Boat Parade on the Columbia River, pulling media attention to this project. This will be preceded by a rally and followed by a comprehensive activist training.

Fishing boat parade on the Columbia River. Participate from shore at the Port of Kalama marina or sign up to join with your fishing boat!
Saturday, April 29, 2017  10:30 – 11:30 am
Port of Kalama
Attend workshops about effective involvement in your community’s campaign against the coal, oil, and methanol terminals.
Saturday, April 29, 2017  Lunch: noon – 1 pm;  Workshops: 1 – 4 pm
Kalama Community Center
RSVP:Email Landownersandcitizens@gmail.com and RSVP to attend. Be sure to include the following information:
o Your name and phone number
o If you can bring a fishing boat
o If you plan to attend Part One, Part Two or both
o If you need a ride from Vancouver or Longview
o Tell us if you would like to volunteer before April 29th to help make this event a success!


Comment Toolkit: Stop PGE’s Fracked Gas Plans

February 27, 2017

Thank you for helping us transition to 100% clean renewable energy by stopping  Portland General Electric’s plans to build two new gas-fired power plants in Boardman, OR.

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Clicking on the links below will bring up a .pdf document in your web browser which you can either print or download.

Comment cards to submit to the Public Utility Commission

Talking Points to guide your conversations with friends, family and neighbors, when asking them to fill out a comment card

Tips and Tricks for gathering comment cards

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or if you  need any support for gathering comment cards.

Thank you in advance for helping us create a CLEAN ENERGY FUTURE. Your participation will make a difference.

 

Gregory Monahan, (gregory.monahan@oregon.sierraclub.org)

Chair, Oregon Beyond Gas & Oil Campaign


Electricity From Clean Renewable Energy Sources

February 16, 2017

Portland General Electric (PGE) wants to build 2 new gas fired electrical power plants next door to the Boardman Coal Plant. If allowed to go forward these plants would lock us into another 40 years of emissions from fracked gas and destroy our chance to move to a clean energy future.

210 kW PV system at SMUD's Hedge substation that is used for grid support

Last year Portland General Electric (PGE) came to the table to help pass the groundbreaking Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Act. They committed to sunset their coal use in Oregon and double their clean energy commitments.

Now, less than a year later, PGE has already violated the spirit of our partnership by proposing huge investments in fossil fuel infrastructure. Building new gas-fired power plants will lock Oregon into decades of climate-disrupting fossil fuel energy at a moment when clean energy sources like wind and solar are more affordable than ever. This is the wrong path for our state, and a disappointing step backward from Oregon’s largest utility.

Oregon doesn’t need more fossil fuel powered electricity. PGE’s own analysis concluded that it can meet customers’ power needs reliably and affordably by investing in renewable energy rather than dirty fossil fuels. Plus, the science is clear: from extraction to production to consumption, gas is a dirty fuel that produces significant amounts of pollution.

The Sierra Club is working with a broad coalition of groups to stop Portland General Electric’s plan to build two new gas-fired power plants next door to their Boardman coal plant.

Like all of our campaigns, our strength comes from the bottom up.  So we need people like you get informed and organize our community to stand up to PGE and say “no” to new fossil fuels.  They have financial and political power, so we must have organized people power.  

Join us to learn about our shared campaign to get PGE to break their addiction to fossil fuels.

There is widespread public support for moving away from expanding fossil fuel use and towards clean, renewable energy. People recognize that the only way to lesson the worst impacts of climate change to start NOW, with no more new fossil fuels added to our energy supplies.

For more information Contact:
Gregory Monahan
Chair, Beyond Gas & Oil Team
at: gregory.monahan@oregon.sierraclub.org


We welcome a new face!

February 15, 2017

Version 2

Nakisha Nathan joins us as our new Organizer. In her new role, she will start off with legislative organizing the clean energy jobs bills, and other climate work.

Nakisha’s love for nature and commitment to Environmental Justice stem from spending her formative years living in Panama, Canada, Texas and throughout the United States.

A few years after graduating from Texas A&M University with a degree in bioenvironmental science, Nakisha began her community organizing journey with Texas Campaign for the Environment (TCE) where she and her colleagues generated statewide pressure that helped convince Dell and Apple Computers to establish a free Computer TakeBack program.

In the Summer of 2012, Nakisha moved to Portland and began her studies toward earning a Master of Science degree in Education, with a specialization in Leadership for Sustainability Education from Portland State University. During her time at PSU, she worked as a  STEAM Garden Educator, cultivating students’ curiosity and facilitating experiential learning opportunities.

She joins Sierra Club after working as a Community and Environmental Justice Organizer with Neighbors for Clean Air, and as the Program Coordinator for the Organizer-in-Training program at OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon.

When she’s not at work, Nakisha can be found playing a variety of games with her friends and family; camping with her partner and two dogs; photographing Oregon’s natural landscapes, flora and fauna; or, gleefully pursuing her quest to find every member of the Araucaria araucana species in Portland.


Developing a Rapid Response Team

January 26, 2017

In response to the Trump administration’s anti-environment, anti-justice agenda – Oregon Sierra Club is creating a state-based Rapid Response Team. The Rapid Response Team is a powerful network of grassroots volunteers who want to take immediate and regular action to defend Oregon’s progress and values. By uniting and raising our voices, we will defend justice and equity in our communities; ensure clean air and clean water; protect public lands, forests, fish and wildlife; and continue our transition to a clean energy economy.

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This team will offer opportunities to build highly skilled volunteer organizers and leaders, foster movement building through cross-issue events, and push Washington, D.C. and local decision-makers to stand strong on key issues. 

Please fill out our Rapid Response Team form so we can let you know when we need your help and support. And stay tuned for more information.